National airline cancels flights, reverts to summer schedule
Cayman Airways has abandoned plans to run flights to and from Dallas year-round because of lack of demand in the winter months.
The twice-weekly flights out of Grand Cayman will end on 31 August. There will be seven additional flights after that, up to 4 January, 2014, but the route then will revert to a summer-only schedule.
Tourists who have already booked flights will be offered ticket refunds or different route options through gateway cities on the East Coast.
Cayman Airways will switch focus to the New York route, moving to five flights a week from February 2014 for the winter season.
“We have had very good summer loads out of Dallas, primarily with visitors to the Cayman Islands, but unfortunately visitor arrival statistics and our own forward bookings confirm that this market is very seasonal,” said Fabian Whorms, president and CEO of Cayman Airways.
“Operating the four-hour flights between Grand Cayman and Dallas is expensive and we want to ensure the greatest return for the country,” he added.
Paul Tibbetts, executive vice president of finance and commercial affairs, said the airline would still operate seven Dallas flights after the end of the season on 31 August. They will run on 9, 16, 23 and 30 November; 21 and 28 December, 2013, and 4 January, 2014.
The twice-weekly summer 2014 schedule for Dallas will relaunch on 24 May, 2014 and run through 31 August 2014, operating on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Shomari Scott, the Cayman Islands’ director of tourism, said, “Anytime there is a reduction in flight service, such as with the Dallas route, there can be disappointment.
“However, to my understanding, there is good news as Cayman Airways plans to continue offering a seasonal summer service to Dallas.
“Notably, the original strategy for the Dallas route was to be seasonal summer service as this aligns to the actual travel trends of potential visitors from that area who have demonstrated a higher propensity to travel to like destinations for leisure during those months.”
Cayman Airways bosses hope the new New York schedule will help continue to drive visitors to Grand Cayman during the winter months.
“New York is a strong year-round market for visitor arrivals to the Cayman Islands and consistently one of the airline’s top performing routes by load factor.
“As such, we are confident that the additional New York weekly frequency will help to drive more incremental visitation,” Mr. Whorms said.
An airline spokeswoman said staff were in the process of contacting all passengers affected by the cancellation of the winter Dallas flights.
Mr. Scott said he was confident that route could still be successful in the summer.
“The Department of Tourism and private sector partners agreed on the need for lift from Dallas, based on the strong potential demand from that area for general leisure, romance, destination weddings and dive travel.
“We thank Cayman Airways for providing this route, allowing for the strategic focus to be on those from the greater Dallas area. There remains much untapped demand in Dallas, which is where the Department of Tourism and the private sector collectively focused our marketing efforts for the success of this route.
“We anticipate that this service will continue to be successful over the summer months when it is offered.”